Madagascar: Humanitarian community assesses relief

JOHANNESBURG, 7 March (IRIN) - United Nations agencies, NGOs and the government in Madagascar met in the capital Antananrivo on Tuesday to discuss ways of bringing relief to hundreds of thousands of people affected
by flooding and heavy rains.
Humanitarian sources, citing a report of the government's relief commission, the Conseil National de Secours (CNS), said it was estimated that 561,000 people had been affected by the floods to varying degrees. But they played down comparisons to the devastation in neighbouring Mozambique.

The CNS report said the areas in the central and northern districts swept by cyclone Eline last month, and last week by cyclone Gloria, would suffer from the loss of food plantations which were flooded, destroying crops which would have sustained local people for the rest of the year. Among the areas worst-affected were the northeast coastal town of Antalaha, Vatomandry, a coastal town 200 km east of Antananarivo, Mahanoro, another coastal town about 100 km south of Vatomandry, and the west coast town of Belo-Tsiribihina.

Various roads in these areas were cut by flood waters, the sources said.

The CNS cited concern that an outbreak of cholera which has infected 11,000 people in the past three months, could worsen. "This is something to be expected. Prior to the storms the cholera situation was bad because of poor sanitary conditions," a humanitarian source in Antananarivo told IRIN.

UNICEF has dispatched a cargo plane from Europe with 15 mt of relief supplies. The shipment included radio equipment essential for relief coordination, 10.5 mt of high-energy biscuits, and emergency medical supplies.

Madagascar, with a population of about 15 million people, has a per capita GNP estimated at US $250, making it one of the 20 poorest nations in the world, according to UNICEF.


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